I Got A Woman

Album: The Collection (1954)


  • This is a re-worked, secular version of a gospel song called "My Jesus Is All the World to Me," which was the first hit song to use secular lyrics in a gospel style. Some people consider this fusion of R&B, gospel and jazz the first-ever soul record.
  • Ray Charles wrote this with his bandleader Renald Richard after hearing a spiritual on the radio while his band was on the road.
  • The mix of gospel in blues on this track was shocking in some circles, but also made the song accessible to a wider audience. The decision to mix styles happened organically. "I was just being myself," Charles said. "Of course it created a lot of static from a lot of people. But then, on the other hand, it was a hit. It was a hit in the black community and the white community."
  • In this song, Charles sings about a very supportive woman who helps him out in many ways. In 2005, Kanye West based sampled this for his #1 hit "Gold Digger." West's song, however, is about a girl who is after a guy for his money. There's a bit of a disconnect, as West used Charles' line "She gives me money, when I'm in need."
  • In 1962, the Philadelphia jazz organist Jimmy McGriff recorded an instrumental version of this song that charted at #20 in the US. Known for his unique organ sound and gospel influence, McGriff was a popular performer on the R&B club circuit until his retirement in 2007. He died at age 72 on May 25, 2008 of complications from multiple sclerosis. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 10

  • John Sehlo from South African i love the song i heard it from the movie
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn May 19th 1965, Ray Charles performed "I Got a Woman" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!"...
    "I Got a Woman" was the first of Mr. Charles' twelve #1 records on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    {See next post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 10th 1963, Ricky Nelson's covered version of "I Got A Woman" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #86; eventually it peaked at #49 and spent 6 weeks on the Top 100...
    The record's A-side, "You Don't Love Me Anymore", charted at two positions higher at #47 and stayed on the Top 100 for 7 weeks...
    Ray Charles' original version of the song peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on May 7th, 1955 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Two other covered versions have made the Top 100 chart; Jimmy McGriff* {peaked at #20 in 1962} and Freddie Scott {reached #48 in 1963}...
    * With Jimmy McGriff's version the record label read "I've Got a Woman" instead of "I Got a Woman".
  • Nick from London, United KingdomOne of the songs getting massive airplay in the summer of 1954 was It Must Be Jesus by jubilee quartet the Southern Tones. Recorded in Houston in 1954, Ray and his trumpet player Renald Richard heard it on a gospel radio station while on tour in the south with Ruth Brown. Richard came up with some new lyrics, Charles knocked up a 16-bar gospel chord progression and a latin riff for the brass and the band cut the song in a studio in Atlanta. The result was a perfect marriage of gospel music and blues. When it was released in December 1954, it went straight to the top of the charts and turned the music industry on it's head. Gospel preachers denounced it and even Big Bill Broonzy criticised it calling it "mixing the sacred with the profane".

    Ray sets it a semitone higher but keeps the melody intact. The important differences are not in the song but in the arrangement. The Atlantic recording is a small orchestra as opposed to The Southern Tones' simple vocal quartet plus guitar. Ray transforms the middle section into stop-time and replicates the backing vocals part in the rhythm section. Jerry Wexler was knocked out and Atlantic pulled out all the stops to promote it, using the adverse publicity to their advantage. Meanwhile, the poor old Southern Tones were all but forgotten. Music historian Peter Guralnick argues that Ray Charles's recording of I've Got a Woman exerted as profound an influence on the course of American popular music as any single record before or since. The groundbreaking and controversial song gave Charles his first #1 R&B hit and established him as the prime mover in what would become known as soul music.
    Nick Duckett
  • Robin from Aurora, MnI totally agree with Jason of Austin, TX that Al Kooper's version of this song is the best I've ever heard. It's sweeping and emotional with a bluesy feel so deep it reaches my toes. Al Kooper also wrote songs for and played with Blood, Sweat and Tears. This is one version of I Got A Woman that is definitely worth searching for.
  • Bob from Comox, B.c., CanadaElvis Presley did a great cover of this song on his first album "Elvis Presley" in 1956.
  • George from Salisbury, Ctkanye west got the idea for his song"Gold Digger"
  • Axe from Singleton, AustraliaThe Beatles also did a version of this on their "Live At The BBC" album. George did a pretty gnarly rockabilly solo. Worth a look.
  • Jules from Sickelrville, Njkanye west sampled this for the song "golddigger" but actually didnt sample it but used jamie foxx both are pretty good
  • Jason from Austin, TxThere is a man by the name of AL Kooper (created the "who wears short shorts" song back when he was 17 -- guitar/keyboard prodigy). He played on Beatles' albums, Zeppelin albums, Dylan albums and many more. I consider him the most underrated musician of all time. He played with Mike Bloomfield a lot if that opens any doors. BUT, Al Kooper has the most incredible version of this song. I've heard many other versions and I actually had no idea that Ray wrote this until my bordom carried me here today... but you would be a fool if you did not find Al Kooper's version right this second.
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